4 MX Safe. for Bighorn Sheep The Air Force has released its enconcerning the theoretical deployment of the MX missile, and although the system is still geared toward a Nevada/Utah site, the EIS indicates that the possibility of planting missiles in Texas and New Mexico is still alive and finigling. The EIS, a bulky five-chapter document, was disseminated to the public via simultaneous press conferences held around the country on Dec. 18. The Texas announcement was made at Bergstrom Air Force base in Austin [see box]. A 90-day public comment period is now in effect, and a final version of the EIS is scheduled for release this summer. According to the Air Force, the EIS gives environmental information needed for selection of a deployment area and two operating bases for the 200-missile, 4,600-shelter system. There are eight unranked possible combinations of deployment and operating base locations called “proposed action and alternatives.” Six are located in Nevada/Utah. A seventh alternative cites Clovis, New Mexico and Dalhart, Texas as operating bases and would deploy 100 missiles in each state. An eighth alternative, split basing, would divide deployment among Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada with operating bases in Coyote Spring Valley, Nevada and Clovis, New Mexico. The Air Force has favored siting the MX in Nevada/Utah but refuses to discount the possibility of a Texas/New Mexico deployment, saying that it, too, is strategically a “very fine site.” According to what appears to be a hastily compiled Air Force comparison of short-term impacts of the eight alternatives, Texas/New Mexico appears environmentally better suited than it is. Much of this is due to the use in the EIS of 36 “issue areas,” which are areas of general evaluation, for example, “quality of life,” applied to all the potential variations in MX basing. The problem is, the issue areas seem to have been conceived with the Nevada/Utah site in mind, so that comparison to Texas and New Mexico becomes ludicrous or perhaps insidious. According.to the Air Force,. Pronghorn antelope, sage grouse, bighorn sheep, rare plants, and desert tortoises, as well as the Utah prairie dog, “do not occur” in the Texas/New Mexico area. Accordingly, there are “no significant impacts” on such issue areas. Air Force Bombs Observer The Observer is prepared to testify that America’s Air Force is ready to go out and kick ass around the world with or without an MX missile system. A stalwart band of our men in baby blue fended off a determined attempt by a band of Texas Observer reporters to attend a Dec. 18 press conference at Bergstrom Air Force base during which the Air Force explained its version of the environmental impact \(others call it tem near Amarillo. The Observer sent three reporters staffer Paula Manley and MX experts Bill Crawford and George Humphrey. Crawford is a member of the American Friends Service Committee and Humphrey is a member of the Citizens Defense Watch, civilian groups trying to block the MX. Humphrey had atteiided an earlier Air Force briefing about the MX in Texas in Austin Nov. 20 [Obs., Dec. 26] where he pointed up discrepancies in government information about the proposed billion dollar missile system, which could run as high as $113 billion, according to U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. Later, Humphrey asked the Air Force for permission to attend the Bergstrom press conference. Officials at Norton Air Force Base in California said he could go, but at Bergstrom, Humphrey was told only the “press” could attend. The Observer then invited Humphrey to attend on a consultant basis as one of our reporters. Use of experts in developing stories is a frequent part of Observer coverage. Humphrey, Crawford and Manley went to Bergstrom with press passes from the Observer. But at the base, a guard acting under the orders of Capt. Patrick Mullaney refused to admit Humphrey, although allowing in Crawford and Manley. Mullaney said Humphrey was “not a bona fide representative of the media.” He said Humphrey’s press pass was not sufficient to allow him in. “But the other two had exactly the same pass,” the Observer objected. “Oh, well I didn’t see theirs,” Mullaney replied. So much for tight security. Manley and Crawford were able to cover the hearing \(see story in hancement of Humphrey’s detailed MX knowledge during the questioning period. The Observer immediately protested the action to Bergstrom officials, U.S. Sen. John Tower and U.S. Rep. J. J. Pickle on grounds that no governmental agency has the right to tell a news organization whom it may send to cover a story, and that no branch of government may make its own judgment as to “bona fide” members of the press. Pickle responded with a letter to Col. John W. Linihan, commander of Bergstrom, asking Linihan to “consider the problems raised by the refusal to allow a member of the press into the news conference and take steps accordingly.” Tower said he would investigate the matter. We’re waiting for the next press conference. Davis Journal 12 JANUARY 16, 1981 /e,
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